The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been an anxiety-provoking and stressful time for everyone. With social distancing measures and working from home, it can be challenging to establish a consistent daily routine. In addition, many Canadians have been struggling with maintaining healthy eating habits during the coronavirus pandemic.
Maintaining a healthy diet, staying active, getting enough sleep and managing your stress are essential to staying healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Eating healthy is especially important during the COVID-19 winter because it helps to maintain optimal immune system function and to lower your risk of illness and chronic disease.
So, how is it possible to maintain good nutrition during the novel coronavirus pandemic? In this article, we will discuss some simple and effective tips to help you maintain a healthy diet during these challenging times.
- Grocery shop with a plan
Creating a weekly meal plan and stocking your pantry are great ways to consistently maintain healthy eating habits. To make this process easy, you can think of some nourishing meals rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins that you would like to make in the upcoming week and create your shopping list. Some examples of healthy go-to items to stock in your pantry include canned fruit and vegetables, canned meats and fish, nuts and nut butters, as well as beans, whole-wheat pasta, and other whole grains. Some useful foods to stock in your freezer include frozen fruits and vegetables, frozen berries and whole-grain bread and tortillas.
- Snack smart
Spending a lot of time at home also makes us likely to practice mindless snacking, simply by having access to all our favourite foods. To avoid idle snacking and overeating, which can lead to weight gain, health experts recommend maintaining regular mealtimes at scheduled times. Moreover, if you work from home, it is best to avoid working in your kitchen, and to step away from your workspace to have your snacks. In addition, it is also important to avoid eating snacks straight out of the box – you can prepare your snack portions for the day to set aside, and put the rest of the box or container away. Finally, it’s important to choose healthy and nutritious snacks when grocery shopping to reduce unnecessary snacking on calorie-rich junk foods, such as potato chips.
- Identify your overeating triggers
It’s easy to eat too many calories when spending most of our time at home. To avoid unnecessary eating and weight gain, it’s important to identify our overeating triggers. When you find yourself reaching for food in between meals, you should first consider whether you are about to eat because you feel hunger, or because you are stressed, bored or feeling emotional. If you find yourself snacking to deal with stress during your busy day of working remotely, it’s a good idea to learn some stress management techniques. On the other hand, if you find yourself eating because you feel bored, it’s important to keep your mind and body busy – for example, by calling a friend or a family member to chat or by exercising at home.
- Conquer your cravings
If you are prone to specific cravings, it is important to identify them and make healthy choices, while prioritizing healthy alternatives to processed and calorie-rich foods. We often crave specific flavours or textures, which makes it easy to prepare healthier options beforehand. For example, if you tend to crave sweet foods, you can choose fruit and berries over candy and sugary foods. If you often crave salty flavours, you can opt for some lightly-salted popcorn or trail mix. Moreover, when you crave for foods with creamy textures, you can try substituting calorie-dense rich snacks with hummus or Greek yogurt.
- Practice mindful eating
When working from home, many of us are tempted to eat our meals in front of the computer, in between work meetings and answering emails. However, not paying attention to our food when eating it can lead to overeating and reduced feeling of satisfaction from our meals. Therefore, dieticians and health experts typically recommend eliminating distractions (such as working on the computer or scrolling through your phone) during mealtimes. Focusing on our food and eating slowly not only improves our digestion, but also gives our brains and bodies the opportunity to take pleasure in eating and recognize when we are full. Since it can take up to 30 minutes for food to reach the stomach after eating, it is important to avoid eating too fast, which can lead to overeating.
Due to social distancing, working from home and increased stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are a lot more likely to make bad food choices and overeat. However, it’s possible to maintain healthy eating habits with some planning and organization, as well